Call it "no-makeup makeup," call it the "clean look" — whatever you call it, class performance is trending.
I love how you’ve connected all these dots and put this current moment in historical context. I hate that this is where we are- still stuck in a place where women and femmes have to wear makeup simply to be seen and respected.
Great read as always, thank you! I save a lot of time and money by the no makeup look...though I achieve it by actually wearing no makeup. "Flaws" and all out there for the world to see. At the end of the day I am just being me and showing that to the world. Take me or leave me. Either way my wallet and my self are quite happy.
You hit the nail on the head, as per usual! Also, the NYTimes article about I Feel Pretty that you linked, was very good... until it tripped at the finish line. I find it so odd that the author was so clear-eyed about punishing, impossible beauty standards and the corresponding oppression, then at the end said that "it's simply too painful to address head-on" and that she can only find reprieve from those feelings at Sephora. What?? It felt so toothless.
This is so thought provoking and good. You articulate so brilliantly the discomfort I have been feeling about the "clean" beauty movement and haven't had the words for.
It's so hard for me to disengage too, I'm a white cis/het lawyer and it's so ingrained to me as to how I need to present to be viewed as "professional". I'm perfectly happy to run errands and go about my non work life with a bare face but at work...not so much. It's a struggle.
Absolutely spot on as usual! I have often thought how much easier it must be to wear very minimal makeup and still conform to beauty standards if you have the resources to access the very best facialists, aestheticians, doctors, skincare. The aesthetic labour is simply outsourced and paid for.
I loved this (as I do all your work)!
I was curious about this part: “It all smacks of diet culture rhetoric that, following decades of activism from the body acceptance movement, has fallen out of favor.” I don’t know if I’m misreading it, since I don’t think the explicit diet culture rhetoric being out of favor has led to any real changes for those of us in the most marginalized bodies — the body acceptance movement, or body positive movement, is just a watered down message co-opted from the tireless work of fat activists who have been thrown under the bus by the body positive movement time and time again.
Much as the shift to minimalist beauty is just as capitalistic and impossible to achieve as the previous beauty standard, so it goes with the body acceptance movement. My access to the world is still curtailed, the algorithms of social media still punish larger bodies and promote smaller ones, and research shows that implicit weight stigmatizing beliefs have risen dramatically in the past ten years compared to significant *decreases* in other implicit biases in the same period. Diet culture might be under more scrutiny today but I still can’t get competent healthcare and companies like Noom are still profiting off the $80+ billion industry that exists to eradicate bodies like mine, it’s just...better at gaslighting us while doing the same amount of harm.
Phew. Sorry, this is obviously a passion of mine but of course your Substack is focused on skin/beauty culture and cannot cover every nuance of every adjacent movement, and again I suspect the part I quoted was probably echoing my same sentiment: the skincare and diet industry are hand-in-hand and co-opting radical messaging by activists to sell us the same old white supremacist beauty standards that harm the most marginalized among us.
Thanks for your work! I have been recommending your Substack left and right!
As per usual, a fantastic read. I was thinking about this and I'm curious if you've thought about it: Do you think the fact that you're white, able-bodied, pretty, with good skin, don't work in an office surrounded by men, etc, etc, makes it easier to reject some of these beauty standards and norms? Is the ability to resist sometimes a form of privilege??
Achieving "Natural beauty" through buying make-up is an invention as old as cinema. Just... nothing has changed in almost a century.